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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Instead of leading her across the courtyard, Brum turned left onto a path that hugged the side of the colonnade. As he did, Nina glimpsed a group of people in hooded black coats moving toward the tree.

“Who are they?” asked Nina, though she suspected she knew.

“Drüskelle.”

“Shouldn’t you be with them?”

“This is a ceremony for the young brothers to be welcomed by the old, not for captains and officers.”

“Did you go through it?”

“Every drüskelle in history has been inducted into the order through the same ceremony since Djel anointed the first of us.”

Nina forced herself not to roll her eyes. Sure, a giant, gushing spring chose some guy to hunt innocent people down and murder them. That seems likely.

“That’s what Hringkälla celebrates,” continued Brum. “And every year if there are worthy initiates, the drüskelle gather at the sacred ash, where they may once more hear the Voice of God.”

Djel says you’re a fanatic, drunk on your own power. Come back next year.

“People forget this is a holy night,” Brum muttered. “They come to the palace to drink and dance and fornicate.”

Nina had to bite her tongue. Given Brum’s interest in the dip of her neckline, she doubted his thoughts were particularly holy.

“Are those things so very bad?” she asked teasingly.

Brum smiled and squeezed her arm. “Not in moderation.”

“Moderation isn’t one of my specialties.”

“I can see that,” he said. “I like the look of a woman who enjoys herself.”

I’d enjoy choking you slowly, she thought as she ran her fingers over his arm. Looking at Brum, she knew she didn’t just blame him for the things he’d done to her people; it was what he’d done to Matthias as well. He’d taken a brave, miserable boy and fed him on hate. He’d silenced Matthias’ conscience with prejudice and the promise of a divine calling that was probably nothing more than the wind moving through the branches of an ancient tree.

They reached the far side of the colonnade. With a start, she realized Brum had deliberately led her around the courtyard. Maybe he hadn’t wanted to bring a whore through a sacred space. Hypocrite.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“The treasury.”

“Are you going to woo me with jewels?”

“I didn’t think girls like you needed wooing. Isn’t that the point?”

Nina laughed. “Well, every girl likes a little attention.”

“Then that’s what you shall have. And the thrill you were seeking, too.”

Was it possible Yul-Bayur was in the treasury? Kaz had said he’d be in the most secure place in the Ice Court. That might mean the palace, but it might just as easily mean the treasury. Why not here? It was another circular structure wrought in glowing white stone, but the treasury had no windows, no whimsical decoration or dragon’s scales. It looked like a tomb. Instead of ordinary guards, two drüskelle stood watch by the heavy door.

Suddenly, the full weight of what she was doing hit her. She was alone with one of the deadliest men in Fjerda, a man who would gladly torture and murder her if he knew what she truly was. The plan had been to find someone to give her information on Bo Yul-Bayur’s location, not to get cozy with the highest-ranking drüskelle on the White Island. Her eyes scanned the surrounding trees and paths, the hedge maze pushed up against the treasury’s east side, hoping to see some shadow move, to know that someone was there with her and that she wasn’t completely on her own. Kaz had sworn he could get her off this island, but Kaz’s first plan had gone to pieces—maybe this one would, too.